Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Behind (and possibly swept under) the Red Carpet...

After four years living in Los Angeles I finaly get to a movie award ceremony. There are multiple awards for the city’s biggest industry at the start of each year and knowing my chances of getting into the Academy’s one was slim, I jumped at the chance to educate myself in the ways of the award show at the fifth annual CAMIE Awards.

Yes, the CAMIEs. The Awards for Character And Morality In Entertainment recognize “uplifting motion pictures that provide a positive influence for good” (unlike all those films that provide a positive influence for bad). There are no nominees, just films that are recognized.

Applause is an important part of any award show. We applaud the presenters each time they introduced the personality, who we also applauded, that would announce the next winner which, of course, warranted applause; the film clips are applauded, so is each recipient as they walk to the stage. After two awards my palms had a constant tingle, after four there were blisters and blood. Only six more to go. It surprises me there are not professional clappers. A man could make a good wage in this town hiring out good clapping stamina.

No award is valid without a recognizable, iconic statuette. The CAMIE statuette is a whimsical girl-in-a-long-flowing-lace-collared-dress. The policy is to give one to the actors, directors, studio and just about everybody else associated with the recognized films. Though you want recognition for your award show through recipients turning up, the “everyone gets one” policy means you don’t actually want them all too make it. The Reading Room had two dozen assorted cast and crew there, each of whom got a turn at the mic to say thanks (my over-clapped palms slid of my hands). With only a few statuettes on hand they were passed round so no one was on camera empty handed. The chances of someone being forgotten were large. In this case it was unfortunate that it was the director that hadn’t spoken when they started to usher people off stage.

The two presenters (who helped prove that that people viewed through a cathode ray tube can be made to look impossibly more beautiful than they actually are) were also given statuettes. I can’t help thinking this was a bad idea. Exclusivity makes the awards desirable, throwing them at people that didn’t really do anything for them (according to the award criteria) is a nice gesture that diminishes the awards value.

There was certainly an air of “so, does anyone know what happens next?” More than once the presenters did a come on, pause, come off. At one point our presenter even had to ask “er, is Michael actually here?” only for a reply to be shouted from the audience that Michael was not actually there but some other, now inferior-feeling minion, was there instead.

If award show legitimacy is determined by what quota of gushy thank yous are given at the shows end, then the CAMIEs are very legitimate, thanking as they did everyone from the printer to the teleprompter person.

The reason for the award itself is valid, and it was good to see wholesome entertainment lauded. And I did indeed, at a boda fide Hollywood event, walk the red carpet (even if, for some inexplicable reason, the red carpet did not lead from the limousine drop off point to the front door of the theater, but from the bottom of the parking lot stairs to a spot 20 feet from the bottom of the parking lot stairs).

The CAMIEs are plenty big enough to be considered a full award show in most respects-—big theater, lots of tuxedos, and enormous gold statues on the stage (even if they were leftovers from a more prestigious award show that used to be held there). The five-year old ceremony is gradually gaining recognition but the fact it started ten minutes late, the presenters hadn’t really been told what to do, and that fact Alan Osmond was a sponsor, leads one to believe it has a ways to go.